We are in the process of phasing out night feed for Pocha and Guillermina. We practice this with new elephants in order to help them feel more comfortable in their new home and understand that they’re not alone; we are there if they need us for anything. The reality is there is enough natural food in the habitat that it’s not necessary unless an elephant is underweight – which neither Pocha or Guille are. We have found that Guille and Pocha are becoming more comfortable with their new sleeping arrangements in the bigger yard, and are mixing things up with the company they’re keeping as well. Over the course of three different evenings, Kat found three different configurations of elephants throughout Yard 4.
On the first night, Pocha and Guille were just inside the larger yard together. During the evenings, we don’t try to seek out each elephant, since they might be sleeping. But we do put out little food surprises in the yards for them to find. Still, once she heard Kat on the 4-wheeler, Maia came looking for her because she knew there would be snacks. A little farther in, Bambi emerged and looked really excited to see Kat as well. Rana and Mara were likely off sleeping, so Kat left after leaving treats for everyone.
Night two saw Pocha and Guillermina even farther into the larger yard, and were joined by Maia. Maia and Guille were actually sharing a pile of hay – which is a good sign that Guillermina is starting to respect Maia’s boundaries. After sleeping through the fun on the prior evening, Mara seemed to realize that the food train was rolling through and she didn’t want to miss it. She and Bambi wandered out to happily greet Kat and get treats. As always, some things were left in the habitat for the others, including (the probably sleeping) Rana.
The third night found Guille and Pocha even farther into the big yard, while Mara and Bambi had made their way up to the barn. Kat left the barn, depositing hay down the middle of Yard 4 for Mara and Bambi. When she got near Lollipop Tree, Rana was ready and waiting. As Kat was leaving, Maia came out of the trees and joined Rana. On the way back, Pocha and Guille popped up, and everyone in those yards was accounted for.
Things are going to keep shifting as far as who is with whom, and where they decide to stay for the evening. Once night feed is completely phased out, and the girls’ independence is encouraged a bit, things will settle down even more. At the moment, it’s nice to see movement around the habitat and an increased comfort with Pocha and Guille staying further away from what was once their needed comfort blanket.
This video shows an example of how different elephants are spending time with one another these days. Mara is on the far left and Rana is on the far right. Guillermina and Pocha walk between them. (You can see the girls have learned that, when Guille comes near, they need to hold on tightly to their hay!)